This animation shows the path of the Moon's umbral and penumbral shadows during the total solar eclipse of 2002 December 04. The Universal Time is displayed in the upper right corner as the animation runs. The instantaneous duration of the total eclipse is displayed in the lower right corner.
The eclipse begins as the Moon's penumbral shadow touches down in the equatorial Africa (04:51 UT). The penumbra appears as a large greyish region that sweeps across the Earth from west to east. It is approximately 4,300 miles (6900 km) in diameter. Everyone located within the penumbra's path will see a partial eclipse of the Sun on December 04. Outside the path, no eclipse is visible.
About one hour later (05:50 UT), the Moon's dark umbral shadow appears as a tiny black dot at the center of the penumbra. The umbra is only about 54 miles (87 km) wide as it rushes across the Earth at velocities of 1250 miles per hour (2000 km/hr) or more. To see the total eclipse of the Sun, one must be located in the narrow path of umbra. Because the umbra is so small and is moving so quickly, the total eclipse lasts no more that 2 minutes 4 seconds from any location along its entire path.
From start to finish, the penumbra takes a little over five hours to sweep across the Earth. The umbra takes just over three hours to travel from the South Atlantic, through southern Africa and the Indian Ocean before leaving the Earth's surface in southern Australia.
This animation was generated from a program written by British astronomer Andrew Sinclair ( ATSinclair@aol.com). I gratefully acknowledge Dr. Sinclair's generosity in making this animation available to the Eclipse Home Page.
Eclipse Predictions & WebMaster: Fred Espenak
Planetary Systems Branch - Code 693
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771 USA